Driverless carshave been heralded as the next wave of transportation, and have also been viewed with skepticism regarding their safety and practicality.
It seems the skeptics were more accurate, at least for now. Lyft, which once planned to use driverless cars for most of its rides, has sold its self-driving unit to Toyota.
Lyft abandons driverless cars
In April, Lyft announced it was selling its autonomous vehicle division to Woven Planet, a Toyota subsidiary, for a sale price of $550 million. (Uber, the other major ridesharing competitor, already sold its own self-driving operation months ago.)
The move led to an increase in Lyft's stock price and a projection that the company will achieve profitability sooner. The self-driving arm of the business was incurring significant expenses.
press release, the companies framed the sale as a new partnership that will "accelerate the development and enhance the safety of automated driving technology". Lyft will make its data from using driverless cars available to the team at Woven Planet.
What happened to the driverless dream?
Business Insiderpoints out, the lofty goals behind driverless cars often conflict with the realities of technology. In 2016, Lyft co-founder John Zimmer made a lofty prediction: within five years, the majority of Lyft rides would be made with driverless cars, and private car ownership in cities would be outdated by 2025. Instead, here we are five years later and Lyft is walking back its predictions in a big way.
Companies may imagine a future of fully autonomous vehicles that require little human input, allowing them to save money on labor costs while improving efficiency.
In the real world, though, even driverless cars need remote supervision to deal with unexpected obstacles or customer service issues with riders. Far from saving money, investing in driverless technology can rack up prohibitive costs.
Beyond the technological issues and prohibitive cost, people seem to have some trouble trusting driverless cars. A
2020 surveyby the Partners for Automated Vehicle Education found that 3 out of 4 people believe that automated vehicle technology is "not ready for primetime".
But over half of those surveyed said they would have more trust in driverless cars if they knew more about the technology. This seems to indicate that more public education around autonomous vehicles, combined with improved technology and cost reduction, might eventually help people feel
safeand help the driverless car dream come true
Jerry looks to the future
For an even deeper dive into how driverless cars work, the current state of the industry, and some possibilities for the future, check out Jerry's take on
automated vehicles. Despite the challenges we've covered here, these cars could reduce accidents and reduce the space needed for parking, especially in dense urban areas.
For any type of car insurance, let Jerry help you find the right coverage for your unique situation. Get
quotes onlineand find answers to your car insurance questions.